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And on this side corn-fields; the grain-stalk thick as a reed; the crop level and compact as a green bank. And here, too, is a field of canary-seed of seed grown for London birds in London cages. The farmer shoots the sparrow-the little rustic scoundrel-that, with felonious bill, would carry away one grain sown for, made sacred to, Portman Square canary! We might, perhaps, find a higher parallel to this, did we look with curious eyes about us. Nevertheless, bumpkin sparrow has his world of air to range in; his free loves; and for his nest his ivied wall or hawthorn bush. These, say the worst, are a happy set-off even against a gilt wired cage; sand like diamond dust; unfailing seed, and sugar from even the sweeter lips of lady mistress. Powder and small shot may come upon the sparrow like apoplexy upon an alderman, with the unbolted morsel in its gullet; yet, consider -hath the canary no danger to encounter? Does not prosperity keep a cat?
Well, this idle gossip has brought us within a short distance of Reculvers. Here-so goes the hoary legend-Augustine impressed the first Christian foot upon the English shore, sent hither by good Pope Gregory; no less good that, if the same legend be true, he had a subtle sense of a joke. Christianity, unless historians say what is not, owes somewhat of its introduction into heathen England to a pun. The story is so old that there is not a schoolmaster's dog throughout merry Britain that could not bark it. Nevertheless we will indicate our moral courage by repeating it. Our ink turns red with blushes at the thoughtno matter-for once we will write in our blushes.
Pope Gregory, seeing some white-haired, pink-cheeked boys for sale in the Roman slave-market, asked, who they were? Sunt Angli-they are English, was the response. Non sunt Angli— sed Angeli; they are not English, but angels, was the Papal playfulness. His Holiness then inquired, from what part of England? Deirii, they are Deirians, was the answer. Whereupon the Pope, following up his vein of pleasantry, said, Non Deirii sed De irâ, —not Deirians, but from the anger of the Lord: snatched, as his Holiness indicated, from the vengeance that must always light upon heathenism.
This grey-haired story, like the gray hairs of Nestor, is preg.
nant with practical wisdom. Let us imagine Pope Gregory to have been a dull man; even for a Pope a dull man. Let us allow that his mind had not been sufficiently comprehensive to take within its circle the scattered lights of intelligence which, brought into a focus, make a joke. Suppose, in a word, that the Pope had had no ear for a pun? Saint Augustine might still have watched the bubbles upon Tiber, and never have been sea-sick on his English voyage.
What does this prove? What does this incident preach with a thunder-tongue? Why, the necessity, the vital necessity, of advancing no man to any sort of dignity who is not all alive as an eel to a joke. We are convinced of it. The world will never be properly ruled until jests entirely supersede the authority of Acts of Parliament. As it is, the acts are too frequently the jests, without the fun.
We are now close to Reculvers. There, reader, there where you see that wave leaping up to kiss that big white stone-that is the very spot where St. Augustine put down the sole of his Catholic foot. If it be not, we have been misinformed, and cheated of our money; we can say no more.
Never mind the spot. Is there not a glory lighting up the whole beach? Is not every wave of silver-every little stone, a shining crystal? Doth not the air vibrate with harmonies, strangely winding into the heart, and awakening the brain? Are we not under the spell of the imagination, which makes the present vulgarity melt away like morning mists, and shows to us the full uplighted glory of the past?
There was a landing on the Sussex coast; a landing of a Duke of Normandy, and a horde of armed cut-throats. Looking at them even through the distance of some eight hundred years, what are they but as a gang of burglars ?—A band of pick-purses -blood-shedders-robbers?
What was this landing of a host of men, in the full trump and blazonry of war,-what all their ships, their minstrelsy, and armed power, of the advent of Augustine and his fellow-monks -brought hither by the forlornness of the soul of man? It is this thought that makes this bit of pebbled beach a sacred spot; it is
this spirit of meditation that hears in every little wave a sweet and solemn music.
And there, where the ocean tumbles, was in the olden day a goodly town, sapped, swallowed by the wearing and voracious sea. At lowest tides, the people still discover odd, quaint, household relics, which, despite the homely breeding of the finders, must carry away their thoughts into the mist of time, and make them feel antiquity. The very children of the village are hucksters of the spoils of dead centuries. They grow up with some small trading knowledge of fossils, and are deep, very deep in all sorts of petrifactions. They must have strange early sympathies towards that mysterious town, with all its tradesfolk and marketfolk sunk below the sea; a place of which they have a constant inkling in the petty spoils lashed upward by the tempest. Indeed, it is difficult for the mind to conceive the annihilation of a whole town, engulphed in the ocean. The tricksy fancy will assert itself; and looking over the shining water, with summer basking on it, we are apt to dream that the same market-town has only suffered a "sea-change;" and that, fathoms deep, the town still stands that busy life goes on-that people of an odd, seagreen aspect, it may be, still carry on the work of mortal breathing make love, beget little ones, and die. But this, indeed, is the dream of idleness. Yet who, if he could change his mind at will, would make his mind incapable of such poor fantasies? How much of the coarse web of existence owes its beauty to the idlest dreams with which we color it!
The village of Reculvers is a choice work of antiquity. The spirit of King Ethelbert tarries there still, and lives enshrined in the sign of a public-house. It would be well for all kings, could their spirits survive with such genial associations. There are some dead royalties too profitless even for a public sign. Who, now, with any other choice would empty a tankard under the auspices of bloody Mary, as that anointed "feminitie" is called? or take a shop even at Nero's Head? No: inn-keepers know the subtle prejudices of man, nor violate the sympathies of life with their sign-posts.
Here, on the sanded floor of King Ethelbert's hostelry, do village antiquarians often congregate. Here, at times, are stories
told-stories not all unworthy of the type of Antiquarian Transactions-of fibula, talked of as "buckles," and other tangible bits of Roman history. Here, we have heard, how a certain woman— living at this blessed hour, and the mother of a family-went out at a very low tide, and found the branches of a filbert tree with clustering filberts on it, all stone, at least a thousand years old― and more. Here, too, have we heard of a wonderful horse-shoe, picked up by Joe Squellins; a shoe, as the finder averred, as old as the world. Poor Joe! What was his reward ?—it may be, a pint of ale for that inestimable bit of iron! And yet was he a working antiquarian. Joe Squellins had within him the unchristened elements of F.A.S.!
The sea has spared something of the old churchyard: although it has torn open the sad sanctity of the grave, and reveals to the day, corpse upon corpse-layers of the dead, thickly, closely packed, body upon body. A lateral view of rows of skeletons, entombed in Christian earth centuries since, for a moment staggers the mind, with this inward peep of the grave. We at once see the close, dark prison of the churchyard, and our breath comes heavily, and we shudder. It is only for a moment. There is a lark singing, singing over our head-a mile upwards in the blue heaven-singing like a freed soul: we look again, and smile serenely at the bones of what was man.
Many of our gentle countrymen-fellow-metropolitans-who once a year wriggle out their souls from the slit of their tiles to give the immortal essence sea air, make a pilgrimage to Reculvers. This Golgotha, we have noted it, has to them especial attractions. Many are the mortal relics borne away to decorate a London chimney-piece. Many a skeleton gives up its rib, its alma, two or three vertebrae, or some suck gimcrack to the London visitor, for a London ornament. Present the same man with a bone from a London hospital, and he would hold the act abominable, irreligiously presumptuous. But time has "silvered o'er" the bone from Reculvers; has cleansed it from the taint of mortality; has merged the loathsomeness in the curiosity; for Time turns even the worst of horrors into the broadest of jests. We have now Guy Fawkes, about to blow Lords and Commons into eternity-and now Guy Fawkes, masked for a pantomime.
One day, wandering near this open graveyard, we met a boy, carrying away, with exulting looks, a skull in very perfect preservation. He was a London boy, and looked rich indeed with his
"What have you there?" we asked.
"A man's head—a skull,” was the answer.
"And what can you possibly do with a skull ?"
“Take it to London."
"And when you have it in London what will you do with it?” "6 'I know."
"No doubt. But what will you do with it ?”
And to this thrice repeated question, the boy three times answered, "I know."
"Come, here's sixpence, now what will you do with it ?"
The boy took the coin-grinned-hugged himself, hugging the skull closer, and said very briskly-" Make a money box of it."
A strange thought for a child. And yet, mused we, as we strolled along, how many of us, with nature beneficent and smiling on all sides,-how many of us think of nothing so much as hoarding sixpences-yea, hoarding them even in the very jaws of desolate Death!
351.-The New Dress.
[RICHARD BRATHWAYTE, a most voluminous writer of small Tracts, both in verse and prose, the son of a gentleman of Westmoreland, was educated at Oriel College, Oxford. He died in 1673, aged 69. His works were popular in his own day, although they are now only found in the collections of the bibliographical antiquary. The following is from 'Contemplations,' appended to his Essays upon the Five Senses,' printed in 1625.]
O, my soul, how long wilt thou attire thyself in these rags of sin? how long in these robes of shame? When thy heavenly bridegroom comes, he will not endure to look on thee; He can by no means like thee; nor love thee, nor espouse himself unto thee,